Thursday, September 24, 2009

Hunger Challenge Cassoulet -- Beans Get All Dressed Up for Dinner

I’ll probably be adding some back story to this post later, but for now enjoy this recipe which is suitable for festive occasions as well as every day dinners. It is in no way or form an “authentic” cassoulet, but don’t let that worry you, just enjoy. Despite its full-bodied taste, the dish only cost about $5.75, or about $1 to $1.44 a portion.

This recipe has been designed to made on a stove top, but if you want to cook yours in the oven or brown the bread crumbs at the end and have the means to do so, please do.

While it will taste amazing freshly made it will taste even better if you give everything a chance to meld together, so it’s great for making a day or two in advance and reheating. Don’t add the bread crumb topping until right before serving, however. Leftovers are delectable. For another variation of my not-quite cassoulets, please check out this post.

Hunger Challenge Cassoulet
Makes 4 to 6 generous portions

Slightly smoky, earthy and very satisfying, this savory bean dish is not quite a stew, not quite a casserole.


My bargain tomatoes came in a large size can, so I divided them up between two recipes. (This and the Sweet and Sour Cabbage Soup.) Your could substitute one smaller can.

I cooked my navy beans from dried (99 cents a pound) and the cost of this dish reflects that. A one pound package of beans will cook up to about 6-7 cups, so you can add leftovers to your soup, throw together a bean salad, create a bean puree for use as a sandwich filling, make a white bean chili or freeze for another use.

2 Tbs. oil
7 ounces, turkey kielbasa or other smoked sausage (about half of a sausage), cut into ¼” slices
1 pound of boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1” cubes
1 small onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 carrots, chopped
1 large celery stalk, chopped
½ large green bell pepper, chopped
¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. ground black pepper
1 ¼ tsp. Italian seasoning, divided
½ tsp. prepared yellow or Dijon mustard
½ of the whole, peeled tomatoes from a 28 ounce can of tomatoes in juice, drained and chopped (juice and remaining tomatoes reserved for Sweet and Sour Cabbage Soup or other recipe) OR 1 14-16 ounce can of whole, peeled tomatoes, drained and chopped and juice reserved for another use.
2 ½ cups of cooked white navy beans
2 slices of bread

Heat oil in a large heavy pot (such as a Dutch oven) or deep skillet over medium high heat. Brown the sausage slices remove to a plate. Brown the chicken (working in batches if necessary). Remove to plate with sausage and set aside. Sauté onion and garlic until golden. Add carrots and sauté, being sure to stir up the browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Add a bit of water needed. When the carrots have begun to soften add the celery and green pepper. Sauté for a few minutes and add the salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, 1 tsp. of the Italian seasoning and the mustard. Stir well to combine. Reduce heat to medium. Add the tomatoes, chicken, sausage and any liquid from the plate the meats were resting on. Stir well. Add the beans, stir well. Cover, reduce heat to low and let simmer, stirring occassionally, until the chicken is cooked through and the tastes have melded (about 20 to 30 minutes.)

While the cassoulet is cooking, toast the bread until it is golden brown. Wait until it cools and then finely chop into very rough bread crumbs. (Or whir in a blender, just be sure you don't puliverize your crumbs!) Crumble the remaining Italian seasoning with your fingers and mix with the crumbs. Right before serving, scatter bread crumbs atop cassoulet. If desired (and if you have used an oven proof pot), you can brown the crumbs slightly under the broiler.

Want to make a more authentic cassoulet -- try the Amateur Gourmet's version with step-by-step photos? If you check out his photos you will see that, yes, it is true, you are not allowed to be a food blogger if you don't own a red-enameled dutch oven. (FYI - I got mine used at an estate sale, which is a good place to try to find these beauties at a price you can afford. The other place is discount stores such as TJ Maxx and Marshalls. They sometimes have seconds (usually finish issues) for half price or less. I got my blue oval one there.

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